How would you feel if you woke up one morning, turned on the television and saw a news report saying, “As of today, the last dog on Earth has died.”?
You’d probably start laughing and switch the news station, but what if it was true? What about cats? or horses? What about your favorite animal? Well, things like this really do happen, but most of the time, not as quickly as in just one day. This process is called extinction.
You may be thinking: What is extinction anyway, and how does it happen? The word extinction means “To die out, or eliminate.” An animal species has become extinct when the last living member of that species has died. So many species have died out that they are impossible to count. It could happen to any creature, at any time.
Animals become extinct for some very basic reasons. 1st. People take over land that they would naturally use. 2nd. People hunt certain animals too much. 3rd. Animals are introduced into a new area and compete with the native fauna. And 4th. Climate can change and they cannot handle the new conditions.
Some of these extinct creatures were really amazing. One that I find interesting is the Tasmanian Tiger. It became extinct in 1936 due to extremely too much hunting and competition for food with wild dogs which were introduced to Tasmania by European settlers. The Tasmanian Tiger looked like a striped dog with a long tail, but was really a marsupial and related to the kangaroo. The last known Tasmanian Tiger died in Hobart Zoo, Tasmania, but some people claim to have seen them since then.
Another extinct animal was the Honshu Wolf of Japan, which died out in 1905 and began its decline when rabies was introduced by dogs to the island where they lived. People also had started to remove the forest for farming which took away their habitat. The Honshu Wolf was the smallest known wolf species on Earth.
There were Passenger Pigeons, extinct in 1914 due to over-hunting and loss of habitat, and the Dodo, a flightless bird, went extinct in 1662 because of hunting and its fearlessness of humans, making it an easy prey. In the last 600 years alone, 44,000 species of insects have died out.
As you can see, when God created the world He gave us many wonderful and amazing creatures. Unfortunately, we have not been the good stewards of His creation that we were intended to be.
Threatened animal species are those that have so few members that without being carefully watched, they could easily become extinct. Two such animal species are the Andean Mountain Cat and the Red Wolf, which has traits of both the Grey Wolf and the Coyote.
Though it does not happen often, sometimes people make mistakes and an animal originally thought to be extinct is later rediscovered. This was the case of the Takahē bird of New Zealand, which was considered extinct for fifty years until Geoffrey Orbell re-discovered them in 1948.
So, how can you prevent more of God’s creatures from becoming extinct? There should be hunting laws in place so that people don’t lose the very animals they desire to eat. Now, I’m not against hunting. In fact, I think that it’s crucial to some animal’s permanent survival by reducing overcrowding. Also we need to keep national animal reserves and parks to leave a place they can go for refuge as our population encroaches upon their habitats. We must not transport animals to places where they would not naturally be and where they could escape or be let loose. We should keep pollution to a minimum and try to live more naturally in our wonderful world.
There are many organizations in place for the purpose of helping threatened animals. One of the most notable is the National Wildlife Federation, which helps conserve threatened wildlife and keeps the environment healthy for animals.
There is another organization that is meant specifically for youth and has many programs on how to keep our Earth healthy for humans and animals alike. This organization is 4-H. If you are interested in preventing habitat loss which leads to extinction, you should join the 4-H Environmental/Earth Science program, where youth can learn how to solve environmental issues in the world in an exciting and interactive way.
My goal is that you realize how critical it is to honor and respect all of God’s beautiful creatures. Hopefully, there will be no news reports about the extinction of dogs, or any other animals for that matter. You don’t have to be a specialist to help in the war against extinction, and I am sure that from now on, all of us will do our part.
Think of all that animals do for us. This is the least we can do for them.
Photo credits: 1 Wikipedia